Tag Archives: life

On how important it is to be selfish and a healthy grilled chicken, quinoa, mango and wilted kale salad

23 May

Just yesterday I was invited to a colleague’s birthday lunch. It was great to catch up with my colleagues ( 8 women and 1 guy) and to say that the lunch was hearty, would be an understatement. In between the talk turned towards what the birthday girl was going to do in the evening. I was told that she had her celebratory birthday breakfast with her fiance, lunch with her favourite acquaintances and friends from work (that would be us) and evening would be devoted to another grand meal with her family of sisters and parents. To me that sounded absolutely perfect. A day planned around food!! What a perfect birthday indeed!

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The topic from there on turned towards how important it is to make sure that one enjoy’s her/his birthday to the  fullest. Birthday is one day where everybody is entitled to having  their wishes granted and being the center of attention. I nodded my head to all of it except to the one about being the center of attention. My modest and fiercely grounded upbringing and related conditioning refused to accept any claim that suggested being the center of attention was a good thing. It’s because being the center of attention was akin to being selfish and being selfish meant being a bad person. No way was I going to be a ‘bad person’. And if that meant, shunning attention and allowing the limelight to fall on someone else, so be it.

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One of colleagues, a young Bahraini girl – 20 something old, known for her love of celebrating her birthdays spoke up. I listened to her in rapt attention. She talked about how she put a countdown on her iPhone counting down days, hours, minutes and seconds to her birthday. Everyday she took pains to remind her family and friends about her up coming birthday, giving everybody enough time to plan something special for her. After all, family and friends were supposed to do something memorable on her birthday as they were in her life for a purpose which was to see her happy. She described with stars in her eyes about how excited she felt every year when it is her birthday month. Each year she saved up enough money to buy herself the gift of her choice. This year too, she had already bought herself, her own ‘surprise gift’!!!!!

GCQ5To me, all of it sounded preposterous. Attaching so much value to one day is equal to setting yourself up for disappointment. Yet I listened to her in fascination. She rambled on about her love for gadgets and precious stones, clothes and branded shoes and her father’s credit card. In my head, I was judging her against my will as someone who was so self – absorbed. I couldn’t ever be like her and  concluded  how different individuals we were. Suddenly the shine in her eyes, the unbridled happiness on her face drove me to think beyond the obvious. While I was this 30 -something, unexcited professional; she was this 2o – something, full of hope professional at the other of the table. What was so different that our worlds couldn’t meet? Why was I so resentful of her happiness which was self-generated and did not depend on anything external? Materialistic it might be, yet it was genuine.Truth be told, I envied her sitting on the other end of the table. I wanted to be enthusiastic like her about my own birthday, about my life and everything around me. I wanted to make each day count until it was my big day. I wanted  to celebrate. Growing up has cost me. It has taken away from me my enthusiasm for self – created small joys.

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No wonder I felt trapped between my contempt for her selfishness and my readiness to trade places with her and her attitude towards life.  What was that exact point in life where I lost my uncontainable curiosity and enthusiasm for life? Sitting there among all the chatter and immensely enjoying my chocolate lava cake, I tried to trace back the path in vain. The change had happened so slowly and in many ways, irreversibly. To watch this girl revel in her selfishness, was the takeaway for me that afternoon over good food and other interesting conversation. As women, after we get married and have children and  how soon we forget that we need to be selfish. The word feels abusive because as wives, mothers and hence caretakers, it has no business being around in our dictionary. But with that don’t we also forget to find joy from within us. Our children, our families become our sources of joy. Ofcourse they are. It is not debatable. But isn’t it important to find our own joy. Our self-generated joys such as gifting ourselves what we think we deserve or spending time doing things we love. For most of us, what we deserve is decided by what our family or children think we deserve.

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Just sit back and think hard. What do you really enjoy? Let that not include (for once) your child’s smile, his/her achievements, your spouse’s appreciation or your boss’s dependency on you for work. What do you as a person enjoy doing/thinking/creating? Make a list and take a positive step towards achieving it. I did my list which I define as my sources of self- generated joys. One of them is developing healthy and tasty recipes. The Salad pictures that you see interspersed along with all this ‘selfish’ monologue is my own creation.  I enjoyed creating it and executing it. Well to tell you the truth, I didn’t bother sharing this salad with any one else. I enjoyed it for lunch and felt good about it. May be I am being necessarily rebellious but this concept of finding my own joy for my own selfish reasons has taken root in my mind. The recipe is so simple that it shouldn’t take more than half hour to bring it all together.

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I would recommend that you use a sweet dressing for this salad as it complements the flavours of the tart mango, the delicious dullness of the wilted kale and the hearty goodness of the pepper crusted grilled chicken. The quinoa provides the much need foundation to hold all the flavours and gives it roundness of a complete meal.

Hope you enjoy this and spend some time contemplating selfishly about what makes you smile and your heart jump with joy.

In other news, my blog has been rated as one of the TOP 10 Blogs cooking blogs in India. Woohoo!! I am thrilled to bits. Check out the post here

Also, this is my 250th post on this blog. It is such a huge milestone for me personally because I cannot begin to explain how difficult it was at times to keep going – developing, creating content, taking pictures of food and presenting it in an interesting format each week. I am relentless about my blogs because perhaps because this is MY space and I am stubborn about not allowing it to wither away!

With this note, wish you all a happy weekend! Be creative.

On being purposeless and a chocolate swiss roll

13 Jan

How is the New year treating everybody? Mine has been quite a confused one. Usually the one to plan and fret about new year resolutions, I decided to take a detour.

I decided that I shall stay purposeless for as long as I can manage.

For someone who is easily distracted and needs a million things to feel entertained, it is a big step. Those who know me, know exactly how difficult this is for someone who is forever busy in her ‘busyness’. So come this new year, I decided to take a break from thinking. And planning. And all the things that stop me from living in the present.

As a planner, I am always in the future state while my present is royally neglected. It is a shame considering there are so many moments that I would have loved to capture but I never even got around knowing them. That is because I am zoning out into the future with my plans. This realization  put me on pursuit of being purposeless. I wanted to experience a state of no-thinking. My early morning to-do lists were torn to shreds in my imagination and I let the day happen to me rather than me taking on the day. For a short while, I must admit I did feel a bit free and also had a chance to notice the beautiful rainbow in the sky from my office window. I also observed how the sunlight played a relay race with the shadows of the clouds on the beach front. Being purposeless felt good. But I also realized I wasn’t a natural at embracing this alien concept.

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Stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things taught be a great deal but relinquishing control by letting go of the planning aspect was difficult. The first few days were quite easy since it was an experiment and I was having fun with it. But after the 3rd or the 4th day, I started to experience a familiar feeling of restlessness. It started with the involuntary movement of my legs under my office desk and reached to a point where every 2 seconds my mind would be pulled by some invisible force and was made to submit itself to the planning of the future.

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I forced my mind back to being blank and to stay so. It was such a pull and tug game that lasted for some hours until I was tired. I closed my eyes for a bit in office and thought about the whole exercise.

I realized that in my efforts of being purposeless I ended up planning my pursuit of being purposeless thereby defeating the very objective.

It felt silly and so far -off from my basic instincts. My instincts asked for me  to plan, have achievable objectives and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Not doing this, goes against my nature and hence feels like punishment.

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You may ask  – How did this idea of staying purposeless come about?

Well a particular chocolate strawberry Swiss roll is to blame. One of the final items on my culinary bucket list for 2013 was ticked off before the year ended. I planned to blog about it earlier but my purposeless state disallowed me. The month of December was a gruelling one. There was way too many commitments on the personal and professional fronts. I planned relentlessly and met each one of these commitments without caring how quickly I was feeling burnt out. I attempted the last two items (the Swiss roll and the Khandvi) on the same day. Khandvi was just as tricky and I found success only in the second attempt. As for the Swiss roll – The first time round, I finished baking the cake and had kept it aside to cool. But in my haste, I let the tray and the cake fall on the kitchen floor. My heart broke thinking about all the effort that went to waste. But cleaning up the cake crumbs off the floor got me thinking and I felt like I did not have any energy to pull through to make another batch. I felt like giving up altogether.

It was my culinary bucket list and there was no bucket list police out there to get me in case I don’t finish it before the year ended. 

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But I am a Taurus and we don’t give up. I made another batch of cake, frosting et al and assembled the Swiss roll as delicately as I could. Towards the end of it, I was thoroughly spent. I did not want to look at another recipe or go to my oven again. I wanted a break from it all. And the thinking in particular. From here stemmed the whole idea of being and feeling purposeless. It was an experiment that lasted less than a week but I am glad I did it. Maybe it is still not the right time for me be purposeless considering there are so many things I plan to achieve. Perhaps on a endlessly tiring day, I might resolve to feel purposeless again but I don’t see that day coming anytime soon.

Now for the recipe – All those who are familiar with Rachel Khoo would know that her recipes are just as gorgeous and reliable as Nigella’s. I have tried two recipes so far and I loved both of them. This Chocolate Swiss roll recipe is delightful and finds it place in the top 5 recipes of 2013 ( post to follow). The most interesting part is that, it is flourless! I made this around Christmas which also happens to be my wedding anniversary day. This festive cake fits the bill perfectly.

Rolling of the sponge requires some skill but apart from that the log is pretty easy to deal with. Mine was extremely flawed in its appearance but it was compensated by the splendid taste.

When I think about it , I feel , may be it was the end of the year that made me philosophical and prompted me to experiment with my own psyche. Well, whatever it was, it was quite interesting.

The Different Ages of Love

23 Feb

Its past Valentines and I’m still not able to shake off the feeling… that mushy, tingly, happy feeling. Even after four years of my marriage and a baby, my husband still feels that he needs to surprise me on this day. He sent me a beautiful bouquet of roses and chocolates. So typical, yet so touching. Everything about this day is a cliché and love too, I feel. Yet, its such a difficult feeling to shake off, when you’re feeling it.  While I was arranging those beautiful roses on my centre table, I was reminded of the rose day of my college and also the time someone gave me a rose for the very first time. All those times I felt the same tingly feeling. So is all the love same? It can’t be,  can it.

Just to explore that thought, I tried to dissect the feeling in different ages, when and how I felt it. A true account of it all should be able to help me understand whether all that love at different ages was the same or not. Continue reading

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